Home Celebrity Spike Lee Film on ABC Spikes Michael Jackson “Bad” Box Into Top...

UPDATE: The Spike Lee film on ABC last night has pushed the “Bad25″ boxed set up to number 37 on amazon.com.

Earlier: The Spike Lee documentary on Michael Jackson, “Bad 25,” aired Thursday night on ABC. For some reason, I could never get anyone to send me a review DVD, so I waited and DVR’d it in real time. “Bad25″ the doc is pretty much a sales vehicle for the “Bad25″ boxed set of four discs–the original album, the outtake demos, a Wembley Arena concert–that is worth buying as one package.

Indeed, last night’s showing sent “Bad25″ the boxed set up to number 189 on Amazon.com, so it was a success. Spike Lee makes excellent documentaries, so it’s no surprise that he’s turned the making of “Bad,” Michael’s followup album to “Thriller,” into a good yarn. He weaves in some amazing clips of Michael performing on the “Bad” tour, and we get to see the real unfettered genius — dancing, singing, composing–that was Michael before the 90s began and his life fell apart in an almost non stop fast forward of catastrophes.

No effort is made to examine what happened after “Bad” and its tour. One thing that happened was Michael’s capricious dismissal of Frank DiLeo, the manager who steered him through the 80s and his great successes. DiLeo was starting to voice disagreement with Jackson about the direction of his life, and Michael–who in Spike Lee’s movie comes off as an enchanted child–showed off his willfulness and fired him. Almost no mention of DiLeo is made in the Spike Lee film, although he gets a nice thank you on the boxed set. If, if, if…If DiLeo had remained, maybe Michael would not have spent money wildly and indulged fantasies that became his undoing. We’ll never know. But after that, no ever said ‘no’ again, and if they did, they were gone.

A lot of other people are noticeably absent from the Lee film, but Spike keeps it on the music. And in that it’s only good. Just the full length clips of Michael, live, performing “Man in the Mirror” (which he didn’t write) and “Another Part of Me,” are worth the whole movie. Also, Spike does reference the various influences Jackson had from Fred Astaire and old black and white movies. Like Madonna, Michael Jackson was proficient in processing what came before him and re-imagining it for a new generation.

Some things are said in this movie and left unexamined, including observations about Michael’s image with women needing change, his insistence on using a high little boy’s voice instead of his own deep register, and his being “too shy” to kiss the hot girl at the end of a video. These things just hang in the air. There were a few other things I found odd, or funny, but they’re irrelevant right now. The main purpose of “Bad25,” besides generating income, is to appreciate Michael Jackson’s art. Judged just for that, Spike Lee did a great job.

 

39 replies to this post
  1. With the exception of only a couple of these posts (kudos esp to Margaret & WG), I am reminded why I love MJ and MJ fans. We are passionate, informed, studied, relentless,courageous and realistic (and not starry eyed fools as the press portrays us). We love Michael and though we know he had his faults and insecurities, we will defend him to the enth degree. He had enough butchering while he was with us to last a lifetime and now we stand to give him the respect he always deserved and was rarely given.

  2. “…DiLeo was starting to voice disagreement with Jackson about the direction of his life…”
    I loved FD but what you are insinuating by that exactly??

    “…and indulged fantasies that became his undoing.”
    And what would those “fantasies” be??

    “A lot of other people are noticeably absent from the Lee film”…
    We all know QJ has bad mouthed Michael for years but tries to play if off when cornered. He said he was “too busy” to be interviewed for this film.

    …“Man in the Mirror” (which he didn’t write)… Jeez, why so snarky? What MJ fan doesn’t know Michael didn’t write MITM?? And what does it matter?

    the kiss, the high voice ~~”These things just hang in the air.”
    Maybe when we can see the whole documentary instead of barely half of it and also without constant and frustrating ad interruptions, we’ll better understand those “things” in the air. For me, I don’t care. Just more manufactured speculation looking for dirt.

    Spike’s focus was on Michael’s creative genius and well deserved legacy as an unparalled musical prodigy and icon. It was not to dissect his personal life post-Bad. Thank God. I’ve had enough of that to last a life time!!!

  3. someone here wrote a comment to the effect that Mr. Friedman always gets attacked because he doesn’t write “puff pieces” about MJ. shall we address presumptuous remarks then (and no, this is not an “attack”)?

    as Mr. Friedman wrote: ” If, if, if…If DiLeo had remained, maybe Michael would not have spent money wildly and indulged fantasies that became his undoing. We’ll never know. But after that, no ever said ‘no’ again, and if they did, they were gone.”

    first off, MJ worked extremely hard for his own money, so why shouldn’t he be allowed to spend it? who among us wouldn’t, particularly if wealth, isolation (aside from the attacks endured) became a part of your life? and on the subject of “indulged fantasies”? sorry, but do you know of the inner workings of an artist’s mind – most specifically, MJ’s? to offer a simplified perspective, if I may, to an artist, creativity could be defined as life itself, and to follow your heart is freedom in itself – a concept often misunderstood or marginalized. it takes courage to freely express creativity (or as some may deem it, mere “fantasy”), and courage is what MJ quite obviously had a great deal of within him. besides that, let’s not forget that one of MJ’s “indulgences” (loosely filed under the category of “his undoing”) was spending his hard earned money (often times whole concert earnings) on charity – an approximate $300million – $500million went to charity throughout the course of his lifetime (and that doesn’t include the fundraisers that he contributed his time, etc., to)…and like with Mr. Dileo not getting enough recognition as Mr. Friedman may have liked, MJ rarely gets acknowledged for the extent of his charity work. MJ’s initial purchase of his ATV catalog, also a good thing not to say “no” to, as it has turned out. so what’s the intent behind such broad and clearly emotional statements about how MJ spent his money, Mr. Friedman? no one, not even you, knows that full story – but there sure are plenty of bitter assumptions being made and accepted as “fact”. so is it really necessary to get quite so personal? and i get it, Frank Dileo was not as acknowledged as you may have wanted him to be in the BAD25 docu…but please do keep in mind that whatever the personal history between MJ and FD, MJ did, in the end, rehire Frank Dileo for the This Is It tour, remember? so did MJ not recognize Frank Dileo’s worth as friend and manager? looks like he did. it is unfortunate that MJ and FD were just getting (re)started before MJ passed, and that FD passed shortly thereafter (i would have LOVED to have seen the two back in action :). but again, how much BAD era history could be squeezed into one documentary – be it one hour or two+ in length?
    oh, and btw, didn’t MJ gift Mr. Dileo a Rolls Royce…you know, the one w/ the license plate: “THANXMJJ”? doesn’t seem like anyone took “no” for an answer in that instance either. lol

  4. Sandie, it’s nice that you like Michael Jackson’s music. But don’t delude yourself – you know NOTHING about his personal life or his choices, nor should you. Lisa Marie Presley did not accompany MJ around the world for years after their divorce because he was “pre-sexual”.

  5. Roger, I was not clear reading this whether or not you saw the entire 2 hour piece, but if you saw the same cut version I saw, is it fair to question what was missing if you didn’t see the entire recording?

    I thought the intent of Spike Lee’s work was to focus on the creative process of the people involved, what was achieved, and what was experienced in the making of such an historic recording after the Thriller production. I don’t believe it was merely a sales vehicle for the BAD 25 box set which has been available for several months if I’m not mistaken, nor do I think it was meant to be the 100,000,000th dissection of Michael’s life and character.

    The stuff that you say hangs in the air will probably hang there forever, won’t it? Michael is gone, as is Mr. DiLeo. Even three years later, no one has the answers to the things you ask, not his family, not his friends, not his colleagues. We can speculate for the next 100 years but it won’t make a difference. Perhaps it’s because these things aren’t relevant to what is truly important at this point; his creative genius, his philanthropic efforts, and his remarkable musical legacy.

  6. I watched the Bad25 documentary and I thoroughly enjoyed the clips of Michael performing. He was amazing and SO talented.

    I, too, felt that certain statements were made and then not explained. Michael’s need to change his image with women, the ultimate firing of Tatiana after she unexpectedly kissed Michael on stage … that sort of thing. I have drawn my own conclusions about Michael Jackson and they fall in line with the idea that he was ‘presexual’. I completely ‘get’ my conclusion both from his very early childhood experiences with sex and the way he behaved as he grew up and grew older. Michael said so many things himself too that mesh with the idea of presexuality. It’s all there if people bother to think critically. It doesn’t diminish Michael as the incredible musical contributor that he was and continues to be, but one can’t help but question some of his lifestyle choices. No judgment here but it seems to me that a very large piece of the puzzle is always left out when it comes to MJ.

    Anyway, it’s all water under the bridge now. Michael was an amazing showman, a show stopper. There will NEVER be another Michael Jackson and it’s true what Sheryl Crow said: the molecules changed whenever he was around. RIP Michael.

  7. I thought the Bad 25 documentary was very good especially considering you had 3.3 minutes of commercials for every 8 minutes of Bad25 broadcast time! That was very distracting! It’s no wonder football won out on this one! Sports fans would be calling into the networks if their beloved game was interrupted every 8 minutes with 3 minutes of adds. I look forward to seeing the full version of the Bad25 MJ documentary.

  8. I don´t understand why everyone just talks shit about Michael. Let him Rest in peace. I respect that Michael didn´t kiss the girl. I don`t run around and kissing men. But I`ve kissed Michael. Michael was a good man.

  9. As for speaking in a high voice: Michael Jackson’s voice coach Seth Riggs said on camera after his death that he hated his “frog voice” and wanted to use the high pitch “for personal reasons” (Riggs’ words), so he helped him find a technique to do it. He also said what he remembered most was “his big heart”.

  10. Roger is always right on the money? Really? you haven’t noticed that just about every other time he writes something about Michael Jackson he’s singing his praises and the next time it’s akin to a smear job, really? Guess you must read every other one.

  11. I enjoyed the documentary. And although I’m a huge fan and realize that Mike had his own set of issues (as many fans do, mind you), I really don’t find the necessity of including things that happened in the 90s in a documentary centered around 86-88. I cordially ask: why should it cover post-Bad, Mr. Friedman?

    Plus, the controversies of Mike’s life are blatantly documented in so many other resources, almost ad nauseum. Is it really too much to ask to have a docu centered solely around his music and creative process? I appreciate your insight (which covers most of the drama, in retrospect), but this review comes off as mild petulance. I think fans (and perhaps, non-fans) would enjoy a breather, just to appreciate the art – as you mentioned was Spike Lee’s intent. There has been and, undoubtedly will be, time and opportunity to discuss the aftermath – for the millionth time.

    The one thing I do agree with you on is that more about DiLeo should have been included in the film (though what we saw was only 64 minutes of the 2-plus hour documentary, so maybe it actually does). I’m sure Branca could have offered some valuable insight.

  12. It’s good that there are fans that can be objective but you have to admit that there are those that will never be able to view Michael as other than perfect. Roger always gets attacked when he writes anything about Michael because he doesn’t do puff pieces.

  13. Thank goodness I understand German, I watched Bad 25 that was screened in its entirety over there. I think you are missing out on a lot of great material in the edited versions eg. the Stevie Wonder/MJ footage got cut and I found that really annoying.

    Also I think it would be a great idea for Spike to do a series of these making of the album docs on artists such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, James Brown, Etta James etc it would be very educational for people to learn about the greats and the making of their iconic albums.

  14. Roger is ALWAYS 100% RIGHT ON the money! I really get a kick when fans post nasty comments about him! Get a clue and stop coming here and go to TMZ! I will ALWAYS trust Roger first!!

  15. corrected comment: Nancy: you stated “I think there are fans that will never accept that the man had problems but instead attack those that acknowledge those problems.” I personally think most MJ fans know and accept he was HUMAN and had his own personal issues. The fans have listened to BS from the tabloid media and MJ haters that was without question false. IE: he had a plastic nose, he hated his race so he bleached his skin, all of which he denied. Even after his autopsy proved his nose was intact and he really had vitiligo the lies keep streaming from the tabloid journalist. I don’t care what woman MJ slept with or how many times a day he washes his hands. He did have a right to some privacy! I can’t think of any other artist that the media wanted to totally dissect! The FBI report proved they could not show he harmed any children. Many adults who knew MJ since he was a child say he never was anything but a kindhearted man who never harmed any child. There was an excellent article about how the Media shamefully bullied him with racist name calling and lies. I am surprised the man endured and kept going. Despite the lies he was able to sell 60,000 tickets in 4 hours to This is IT concert. Amazing!! He continued to”keep the faith” as his song title from the Dangerous Album says! What the fans would like to know is when will the Tabloid Journalist finally take some major responsibility for their torturing of a Great Artist with lies they often paid for just to sell gossip to MJ haters for profit! What the Fans want is for the Media to finally focus on what made Michael Jackson the most famous Black Artist who was loved Worldwide which was his Music, and dancing, and messages of Love, Peace, Brotherhood and amazing imagination and humanitarianism.

  16. Nancy: you stated “I think there are fans that will never accept that the man had problems but instead attack those that acknowledge those problems”I Most most MJ fans know and accept he was HUMAN and had his on personal issues. The fans have listened to BS from the tabloid media and MJ haters that was without question false. IE: he had a plastic nose, he hated his race so he bleached his skin, all of which he denied. Even after his autopsy proved his nose was intact and he really had vitiligo the lies keep streaming from the tabloid journalist. I don’t what woman MJ slept with or how many times a day he washes his hands. He did have a right to some privacy! I can’t think of any other artist that the media wanted to totally dissect! The FBI report proved they could not show he harmed any children. Many adults who knew MJ since he was a child say he never was anything but a kindhearted man who never harmed any child. There was an excellent article about how the Media shamefully bullied him with racist name calling and lies. I am surprised the man endured and kept going. Despite the lies he was able to sell 60,000 tickets in 4 hours to This is IT concert. Amazing!! He continued to”keep the faith” as his song title from the Dangerous Album says! What the fans would like to know is when will the Tabloid Journalist finally take some major responsibility for their torturing of a Great Artist with lies they often paid for just to sell gossip to MJ haters for profit! What the Fans want is for the Media to finally focus on what made Michael Jackson the most famous Black Artist who was loved Worldwide which was his Music, and dancing, and messages of Love, Peace, Brotherhood and amazing imagination and humanitarianism.

  17. are any of you (including you, Mr. Friedman) aware that the version of Lee’s documentary that aired on ABC was not the full version, rather one that was heavily edited to fit its tv time slot? maybe you should consider watching the full version first, Mr, Friedman, before hacking out a review? ;) and btw, i loved seeing those adorable pictures of MJ and FD stream across my screen during previews! what amazing lives they’ve lead. ah yes, if only both gentlemen could be with us today to tell their own stories. but then, the BAD25 documentary was meant to be about MJ.

    as for Nancy’s comment: how many of us could dare to acknowledge “objectively” what/who may have caused a great deal of MJ’s so-called “problems” for MJ in the first place (ie, his lupus/vitiligo/injuries/other medical issues, upbringing/circumstances behind it…actual causes of physical/emotional pain, etc.)? only for MJ, even the tiniest “problem” (like if he chose to speak w/ a higher pitch as an exercise, rather than speak in a deeper tone – as covered in Lee’s docu) would be held under a microscope and judged through varying perspectives into oblivion. if focus on “problems” is what one may prefer, perhaps it is “cause” that should first be considered most thoughtfully – in objective form, of course ;) with that, in Lee’s edited documentary, cause for problematic effect had already been suggested (note the Leave Me Alone segment). not only was MJ a public figure throughout the vast majority of his life, as you may be aware, he was heavily judged without end in front of millions since he was a child. perhaps, objectivity flies out the door when so many who have found cause to love him for whatever their reason(s) have watched this individual – literally on a public stage – not just to perform, but to fight for his beliefs, his heart, his intent, his own humanity, while also managing to fight for the benefit of others. easily, it could be said that this man lived several (or our) lifetimes within his own. so if some of his fans are protective over this particular human being, I say why not? perhaps, those fans are actually expressing a kinder version of humanity, taking on the responsibility to counter the absences of truth and sensitivity, and with that, relentless bullying that has caused a great deal of pain and suffering within itself, in general. perhaps, “objectivity” is relative to one’s own experiences, and how one chooses to project them. so maybe this isn’t so much about simply acknowledging whatever perceived or scientifically proven “problems” MJ may/may not have had, but about how those perceived problems continue to be perpetuated as if more important than his undeniably massive accomplishments that even go far beyond his musical abilities and well into his little acknowledged, by comparison, charitable contributions, for instance. as for MJ’s most devoted fans, some detractors may be surprised as to how well versed many of his fans already are on all things MJ (right down to the minute details presented in his *publicly* offered autopsy report that would disprove certain seemingly favored rumors by those who would consider the tabloids as a source of “information” – yet, who would bother to consider those “facts”?), just that there’s a valid underlying frustration over so many highly personal misconceptions about a unique and extremely hardworking individual, who earned his status as a legendary figure through a lifelong, phenomenally successful career in entertainment that began at the age of 5…yet to so many, MJ is most notably known for his kindness and gentle, giving spirit. now, could you imagine the length of such a detailed, honest documentary on this man’s life? that would be more like one heck of a long series! lol
    as to whether or not if MJ did “lose his way”? no offense to anyone here, but who’s to say that WE didn’t? MJ didn’t just bear the weight of his personal success (or struggle with it at times), he spent his rather short existence in this world also helping countless others…and that’s worth acknowledging – to no end – as well. no, I am not equipped to carry the sort of responsibilities (or burdens) that MJ either placed onto himself or that were imposed upon him as a child, and I could only hope to follow, through some small attempt(s), in MJ’s most charitable “way”, as his messages of awareness through his music (for those who wish to listen/see) were meant to stay with us for OUR lifetimes. kind of a gift, eh? personally, the focuses on the man’s purported “problems” has gotten very redundant – particularly (and unfortunately) as the majority of those stories are well infused w/ old, bitter tabloid sensationalism created/manipulated by those who lazily provide wholly inaccurate tidbits in order to accommodate self-interests, or who simply find a twisted joy in marginalizing another human being, an easy target, in every way possible. i find far more significance and preference in MJ’s perspective – or at least the documented proofs of his own perspective – as to who he was at his core and what he was really about. this is, in part, what Lee’s documentary was attempting to convey, and even in its edited version, did a fabulous job at it, imo. how refreshing! I’m looking forward to the release of the full version of Lee’s BAD25 documentary in February!
    to those who have bothered to read my rather long post, please forgive me for its length and thank you kindly for your time.

  18. Roger, the entire documentary is over 2 hours long, ABC aired it for 90 minutes so apparently did some cutting before airtime, then inserted over 26 minutes of commercials into the 90 minutes; the DVD is supposed to come out in February, so we will have to wait til then to see the entire 2 plus hours which probably includes the Stevie Wonder footage. Personally, I loved it, and let’s not take sentence fragments out of context, please? I think it was Matt Forger at HH, who choked up a bit when mentioning he hadn’t been there in 25 years. These people worked closely with Michael Jackson; they knew the man before the bloodsuckers took Michael away. I wonder if the remaining footage will have any acknowledgment from a Jackson family member, sure didn’t see any of them in last evening’s presentation.

  19. LOL I like Frank DiLeo at the end of the day, but let’s not pretend that’s the sole reason he was fired. =_=

    As for speaking in a high voice: I don’t know whether a singing coach taught Michael about that when he was at Motown, or if it was just something he naturally fell into… but yes, speaking in a higher pitch is a way for young male singers to preserve their voices through puberty. MJ needed to keep singing all his original Motown songs in the same key as he did at age 10, 11, so he spoke higher to maintain his voice. It’s a common technique, one that was even recommended to Justin Bieber a couple years ago by a professional singing coach.

    But I’m sure some of it was tied into wanting to remain like a child, too. Michael said as much in his interviews with Rabbi Boteach in 2001.

    ANYWAY… best to wait and see the uncut version of “Bad 25.” ABC cut it down to 60 minutes from the original 132 minutes, leaving out key footage/stories/interviews (including footage of the MJ/Stevie Wonder duet).

    The DVD/Blu-ray will also have an additional hour of footage.

  20. Well, your article was pretty good, I think, especially in acknowledging Michael’s genius. He did however remain a genius and made terrific music & short films long after BAD. But, like all mainstream ‘reviewers’, your knowledge of MJ is sadly lacking as well as needing to always bring in the negative aspects of his life. You didn’t even know that this doc was edited down for ABC airing. About time something was made that doesn’t focus almost exclusively on the negative. Given MJ’s life, pressures, rumours & lies around him, is it a wonder that he behaved in a different way than us ‘common’ folk? And what do you know about Frank Dileo/relationship with MJ? Seems to me Frank took a lot of credit for MJ & overstepped his role & maybe this irked MJ. I also don’t think Madonna & MJ should be in the same category. She was & is a master of PR, but he had music in his soul. Also, she never suffered from the kind of venom that MJ, because he was a superstar from the black community.

  21. Michael did not lose his way!!!
    He was maliciously accused of the worst crimes one can think of ….. which he NEVER was a part of … when he was still at the hight of his career with amazing Tours and albums like Dangerous and HIStory.
    These allegations broke his spirit and his heart because all he ever wanted was to help the children of the world as he did by giving on 500 million to help those in dire need.
    Get your facts straight!!!

  22. Roger, why didn’t you check out Spike Lee’s tweets yesterday, he indicated that ABS was ony showing 64 minutes in the 90 minutes that they allocated to the documentary. The entire documentary is 2 hours 11 minutes long. So, as far as I am concerned, we still have another 1 hour and 7 minutes that wasn’t aired. I will see the full documentary on DVD in February. Yes, I am going to get my copy when it comes out, without a doubt, what I saw last night proved that he is sorely missed, there will never be another! I can’t wait until February!

  23. The full documentary is 130 minutes in length and it was edited to fit 64 minutes for TV airing. I saw the full length film and it is wonderful…part of the edit included Stevie Wonder for one and the studio clips of he and Michael recording together. Not quite fair to judge the TV version vs. the full film.
    And yes, just like Joe Vogel’s Man in The Music, Spike’s film looks at just the making of BAD…and Spike has said repeatedly in interviews that the purpose of this film is to put the focus back on the talent, drive and perfectionism of Jackson. Not to mention the music, dance and short films…the TV version is not perfect because of the necessary edits…but it does give us pause to remember what made Mr. Jackson so popular and beloved in the first place.
    DVD/BluRay full documentary will be released in February 2013, Black History Month.

  24. We get it, you want everyone to give credit entirely to Frank Dileo about this doc.

    And it seems like Michael had been prepared to kiss the hot girl, but the director talked her out of it.

  25. I didn’t find the article to be negative, or “biased & shady.” MJ fans get way too sensitive, when MJ is not presented as being the perfect human being. A genius yes, but he DID lose his way.

  26. I enjoyed the documentary but I agree with roger there were things left hanging out there. I’d like to see a documentary done about Michael that examined the whole man not only the music. I think there are fans that will never accept that the man had problems but instead attack those that acknowledge those problems. Objectivity

  27. Interesting you should find fault with this documentary for merely concentrating on the subject matter. This wasn’t “Bad 25 and the aftermath tragedy of his life”. Yet you seem to wish the docu had explored every aspect of Jackson’s life. This documentary examined the genius of MJ during the making of the BAD album. Period. The Bad Tour found Jackson at his performance peak. If you watch the Live in Wimbley dvd, try to follow Jackson during the first song, “Wanna Be Startin Something”. Jackson performs more moves during this one song than a normal performer’s entire concert. I had read several positive reviews of this documentary. I merely came here to hear your negative spin and as usual, you did not disappoint!

  28. Hey Roger, when I checked Amazon.com just now the deluxe edition of BAD25 was sitting at #44 in the comprehensive ‘music’ category, much higher than #189 you state in your article so the BAD documentary boosted sales by more than you thought!

    The USA TV version of the documentary was less than half the length of the full show at about 64minutes. I believe the whole show is 2hrs and 11 minutes, which might explain some of the strange things you mention.

  29. Roger-

    You may also want to check iTunes from time to time and not just rely on Amazon sales as evidence to support your story, though I know you seem to prefer physical over digital. My point is the album was selling MORE digitally on iTunes and charting higher in ranking there than on Amazon AFTER the ABC airing of the doc. LOL

What do you think?